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William Maley

Quick Drive: 2016 Fiat 500C Abarth

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The last time I drove a Fiat 500C Abarth, it with six-speed automatic. I found it to be quite a cheeky vehicle with an exhaust note that makes you think you’re driving something a bit more powerful and a look that helped it stand out. But I couldn’t help but wonder how the Abarth is with the manual transmission. About a couple of months ago, I slipped behind the wheel of another 500C Abarth, this time with the manual. The end result was a bit of a letdown.

  • The manual transmission in question is a five-speed and it isn’t any fun to use. The throw is somewhat long and imprecise. A few times, I found myself going into the wrong gear because I couldn’t tell where I was in the gear pattern. Not helping matters is the clutch which not only has a long travel, but it isn’t easy to find the takeoff point. This is one of those vehicles where the automatic makes more sense.
  • The turbocharged 1.4L four-cylinder produces 160 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. The engine is quite the performer with power coming on strong at low rpm. Engage the Sport mode and the engine becomes more spritely.
  • Some reviews criticize the 500 Abarth’s suspension for being a bit too soft for a performance model. I really don’t see that as I think the Abarth strikes a good balance between handling and ride comfort. Yes, the Abarth will show a little bit more body roll in the corners. But it doesn’t detract from the quick direction change the vehicle is able to pull off thanks to its short wheelbase. The ride is slightly bouncy over bumps, but it isn’t to the point of annoyance.
  • One area that the Abarth could use some improvement is in the steering. A little bit more road feel and weight would not be a bad thing for a performance hatch.
  • If you happen to be a shrinking violet, then pass on getting the yellow paint like on my tester. The level of ‘LOOK AT ME’ is turned up to 11.
  • Fiat will say the 500C is a convertible, but it is more of a targa - the roof rails and pillars stay up, and the canvas roof folds. But I do like that you can open or close it at speed.
  • Visibility must have a different meaning in Italian than English since the view from the rear is almost nonexistent with the top up or down.
  • The interior hasn’t changed much which is both good and bad. The good is the retro styling that adds a bit of charm. The bad are how the front seats feel like you're sitting on a stool. If there was a height adjustment for the seats or a telescoping adjustment for the steering wheel, this would ok. But since there isn’t, you’ll find yourself in a somewhat awkward seating position.
  • As for pricing, the 500C Abarth with the manual begins at $26,695. With options, the as-tested price came to $31,695. The automatic if you wondering adds $1,350 to the price.
  • But there is some good news over the horizon. Fiat will be cutting prices on a number of their models for 2017, with the biggest ones coming to the 500C. It might be worth waiting for the 2017 model since a lower price could make it slightly easier to convince yourself that you can live with something that is quite small, but packs a lot of character. But be sure to go with the automatic.

 

Disclaimer: Fiat Provided the 500C Abarth, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

Year: 2016
Make: Fiat
Model: 500C
Trim: Abarth
Engine: Turbocharged 1.4L 16-Valve MultiAir Four-Cylinder
Driveline: Five-Speed Manual, Front-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 160 @ 5,500
Torque @ RPM: 170 @ 2,500-4,000 
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/34/30
Curb Weight: 2,545 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Toluca, Mexico
Base Price: $26,695
As Tested Price: $31,965 (Includes $995 Destination Charge)

Options:
17-inch Forged Aluminum Hyper Black Wheels - $1,400.00
Popular Equipment Package - $975.00
Beats Audio Package - $700.00
Giallo Moderna Perla (Modern Pearl Yellow) - $500.00
Nero (Black) Mirror Cap with Body Side Stripe - $450.00
Nero (Black) Trimmed Lights - $250.00


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I know some will love this little Italian Job, but for me, :puke: 

IMHO!

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1 hour ago, dfelt said:

I know some will love this little Italian Job, but for me, :puke: 

IMHO!

You and I have very different tastes in vehicles.....!:D

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28 minutes ago, Frisky Dingo said:

32K!?!?!?! No wonder they're slashing prices!! My GTI SE w/ Perf Pkg MSRP'd for that, and it's WAY more car than this thing.

The Abarth is a deal used at 10 or 11K, which is where one can find them late model with low miles if one looks.

The GTI is an actual real automobile....

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the Abarth only excels when it's a barebones affair.

lose the ragtop, the (kinda not great) 'beats' system, superfluous equipment packages and exorbitant visual tack-ons and it becomes the perky, down n' dirty runabout it ought to be. 

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4 minutes ago, bigpoolog said:

the Abarth only excels when it's a barebones affair.

lose the ragtop, the (kinda not great) 'beats' system, superfluous equipment packages and exorbitant visual tack-ons and it becomes the perky, down n' dirty runabout it ought to be. 

Agreed....and I kind of like the car in some ways.....

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I really like the Abarth and the base turbo (IMHO, kill the base NA 4).  Give the little sucker a 6 speed, interior update, and at least new front/rear fascias and it will be a better car. 

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1 minute ago, Stew said:

I really like the Abarth and the base turbo (IMHO, kill the base NA 4).  Give the little sucker a 6 speed, interior update, and at least new front/rear fascias and it will be a better car. 

Or at the very least better build quality....

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9 minutes ago, A Horse With No Name said:

Or at the very least better build quality....

That too haha, but I don't think the thing has been updated since it first came out in Europe how many years ago now?

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28 minutes ago, Stew said:

That too haha, but I don't think the thing has been updated since it first came out in Europe how many years ago now?

Agreed!

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23 minutes ago, surreal1272 said:

So many more, and better, choices for $32K. Just a whole lot of "nope" there.

At this point, the compelling arguments in the sport compact segment are the GTI and WRX....with the Civic SI a distant third.

In terms of pure sports cars, the only real game in town is the Miata below 30 or 35K....370 Z is very dated....

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4 minutes ago, A Horse With No Name said:

At this point, the compelling arguments in the sport compact segment are the GTI and WRX....with the Civic SI a distant third.

In terms of pure sports cars, the only real game in town is the Miata below 30 or 35K....370 Z is very dated....

And I would take any of them, including the 370Z, over this. It's ugly on the outside, even uglier on the inside, and an unreliable pile of top of that. That is the perfect recipe for never getting a dime from me.

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7 minutes ago, surreal1272 said:

And I would take any of them, including the 370Z, over this. It's ugly on the outside, even uglier on the inside, and an unreliable pile of top of that. That is the perfect recipe for never getting a dime from me.

Again, the only sport compacts I could see dropping a dime for would be the WRX, GTI, Miata and BRZ/86.

Everything else can just pound so much sand for all I care....even the Civic SI really really leaves a lot to be desired IMHO.

Edited by A Horse With No Name
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Just now, Stew said:

They could modifiy this platform for this

 

dodge-hornet-concept-11.jpg

There is no limit to the creative ideas they could get flowing....but it will never happen due to Sergio and a lack of interest in the US market.

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      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/31/28
      Curb Weight: 3,232 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Gwangju, South Korea
      Base Price: $22,650
      As Tested Price: $27,620 (Includes $850.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Technology Package - $3,000.00
      Panoramic Sunroof - $1,000.00
      Carpeted Floor Mars - $120.00

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    • By William Maley
      I happen to be a big fan of the Kia Soul. Its daring looks, spacious interior, and overall value make it an interesting option in the compact class. It seems many others would agree as the Soul is one of Kia’s best selling models. To help keep it up there, Kia has introduced a new turbo engine for the top-line Exclaim (!) model along with minor changes for 2017. Let's see how these changes affect the Soul.
      Aside from the turbo engine, Kia made some design tweaks to the Exclaim to have it stand out from other Soul trims. This includes a new front bumper, red accents, 18-inch alloy wheels, a twin-tip exhaust, and exclusive colors like this copper color seen here. The little changes really make the Soul stand out even further than before. Moving on to the turbo engine, it is a 1.6L four-cylinder packing 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. This is only paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. If you really want a manual with your turbo-four, Kia will gladly sell you a Forte5 SX which features the same engine. There is a brief moment of turbo lag when you step on the accelerator, but the engine comes into its own after this with power building smoothly. There are no issues with getting up to speed when merging or making a pass. The dual-clutch transmission is a bit of a mixed bag. In stop-and-go traffic, the transmission exhibits some jerkiness and lazy shifts. We also noticed the transmission was slow to respond in terms of downshifting, making us think the programming for this transmission was focused on fuel economy. At higher speeds, the transmission is better with rapid and smooth shifts. The turbo engine has the highest fuel economy fuel economy figures in the Soul lineup with an EPA rating of 26 City/31 Highway/28 Combined. We saw an average of 25.3 mpg during our week in mostly city driving, which is slightly disappointing. With the turbo engine and racy looks, you might think that this particular Soul is fun to drive. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that is not the case. Out on a winding road, the Soul is competent with minimal body roll and okay steering. This would be ok if it weren’t for the sporty image that is being portrayed by the exterior. We do wish that Kia had made some changes to the suspension to make it slightly sportier.  The upside to not messing with the Soul’s suspension is it mostly retains the smooth and comfortable ride of other models. Mostly is the keyword as the 18-inch wheels do introduce some harshness to the Soul’s ride. There is a fair amount of wind and road noise, most of this due to the Soul’s boxy shape. The Soul’s interior is still as sharp looking as it first was when the current model was launched in 2013. Little touches such as the uniquely styled air vents and orange accent stitching give the Soul a bit of whimsy. The extensive use of soft-touch materials gives off an aura of quality. Driver and passenger get power seats which make finding a comfortable position very easy. Those sitting in the back will appreciate the large amount of head and legroom, due to the Soul’s boxy shape. Our test Soul came with optional Technology Package that includes an 8-inch touchscreen with Kia’s UVO infotainment system and navigation. It is beginning to show its age in terms of the graphics, but it is still one of the most intuitive systems on sale today. A simple layout and redundant physical buttons make it breeze to use. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration is an added bonus. The Exclaim begins at $22,650 and comes well equipped. Standard features include automatic climate control, 7-inch touchscreen with UVO, Bluetooth, leather and cloth wrapped seats, push-button start with proximity key, and automatic headlights. Opt for the technology to get the 8-inch system, blind spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert, heated seats and steering wheel, and power folding mirrors. For only $26,995, you get a nicely equipped vehicle. Our test vehicle is slightly more expensive at $27,620 due to an optional panoramic sunroof which we would skip. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Soul, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Kia
      Model: Soul
      Trim: ! (Exclaim)
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L GDI Four-Cylinder 
      Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Seven-Speed Dual-Clutch Automatic
      Horsepower @ RPM: 201 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500 - 4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/31/28
      Curb Weight: 3,232 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Gwangju, South Korea
      Base Price: $22,650
      As Tested Price: $27,620 (Includes $850.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Technology Package - $3,000.00
      Panoramic Sunroof - $1,000.00
      Carpeted Floor Mars - $120.00
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